Founded in 1982 in Chicago, Illinois, as a partnership between private donors and the state of Illinois, the Ounce of Prevention Fund
strives to give children who are born into poverty a chance for success in school and in life. Decades of research in neuroscience, child development, crime prevention, and economics confirm that learning begins well before kindergarten, and that investing in children during their earliest weeks, months, and years produces the greatest returns to families and to society. The Ounce's late founder, the legendary philanthropist and businessman, Irving B. Harris, believed in working to improve the odds for young children with efforts on multiple fronts. This philosophy continues to guide us today. Through teams of experts in four areas, we:
- Provide direct services for at-risk children from birth to age five and for their families,
- Train early childhood professionals across the state who work with infants and toddlers,
- Research what works and continuously incorporate that knowledge into programs, and
- Advocate for sound public policies and sustained funding streams with bipartisan support so that more young children have access to experiences that enhance their early development.
Since 2001, we have partnered with philanthropists and community leaders in five states to help build Educare Centers in their communities. All of these centers, with more to come, make up what is now known as the Bounce Learning Network. Thus we have expanded the pool of national allies for high-quality care for young children growing up in poverty, helping leaders in other states become even stronger early childhood champions.